BOAZ, Ala. (WHNT) - Whether it's overcoming a substance abuse problem, starting over after being in jail, or needing help to get through a rough patch in life, the Stepping Stone Shelter and Rooming House in Boaz is a place where people can start anew.
A serene setting surrounds the Stepping Stone Shelter and Rooming house in Boaz. For many people, who are trying to hit the reset button in life, it's home.
"It's an opportunity," describes 26-year-old Lauren Fraley, a former resident. "People just need to take it and run with it. A lot of people's families will turn them away because of their past and Stepping Stone gives them a chance to start over. A lot of people need that."
Fraley came to live at Stepping Stone over a year ago. Now that's she's back on track, she can't seem to stay away.
"This is my home," says Fraley. "It will always be my home. It's hard for me to just leave here, you know."
It's because the people there are like her family now, especially director Belinda Arrington, who offers a tremendous amount of support.
"If I needed somebody, I'd call her," says Fraley. "She's there. It doesn't matter - day, night, whenever."
Fraley nominated Belinda Arrington for Pay it Forward. Here's a portion of her nomination email:
"She helped give me the resources I needed to turn my life around. I now look at her like a mother and even though I have moved out on my own, she is still there for me and I'm still actively involved in the home. I've watched her help hundreds and see her put her own personal money and love into the home. Within the year I've known her, I've not seen her publicly recognized and I feel that she deserves it. I'm sure many former and current residents would agree."
After hearing Fraley's kind words and receiving $319, Arrington showed WHNT NEWS 19 around the place.
"It's just people down on their luck that need, not so much a hand out, but a hand up," explains Arrington, Stepping Stone Shelter and Rooming House Director.
There's space for up to 32 people. It's open to men, women and families. Anyone staying at Stepping Stone must pass random drug tests and create a plan for their future. In the kitchen, residents can prepare meals and eat together. There's even a family room for fellowship.
"They watch ball games in here on Saturday," describes Arrington. "They maybe have movie nights and different things. They get on their laptops. We have one that's provided."
Words of encouragement and Bible verses are posted everywhere. The goal is for people to feel loved and guide them toward independence.
"A lot of them need a lot of tender loving care," says Arrington. "This is supposed to be a Stepping Stone."
Stepping Stone receives referrals from churches and law enforcement. The folks staying there do pay rent, but it relies heavily on donations. Several local churches do help support Stepping Stone.